THE PR 50: The Best Communications Pros In Technology

shannon stuboShannon Stubo leads communications at LinkedIn.

Photo: LinkedIn

Behind every high-powered technology company and executive is usually a man or woman (and often a team) making sure the company’s message is coming off correctly.Often enough, we don’t give these people a lot of praise.

Dealing with public relations professionals can be frustrating and at times excruciating. But we understand the reverse — when dealing with a needling reporter — is probably also true.

So we’d like to give a shout-out to some of the best in the field. We’ve ranked the top 50 public relations professionals in the industry through three measures:

  • Influence: These professionals deal with ultra-high visibility companies and direct the mind share of a large portion of our readership.
  • Effectiveness: How helpful and friendly the professionals are when we reach out and try to organise a story.
  • Network: How well-connected the individuals are to other people in technology — even outside of their standard portfolio of companies.

50. Michael Buckley, Brunswick Group

Buckley serves on Brunswick Group's executive committee and handles a lot of relationships that deal with financials -- such as when Facebook filed for its initial public offering.

This is a pretty big deal.

In all, Buckley has worked on assignments that amount to more than $40 billion in IPOs, according to his bio on Brunswick Group.

49. Eric Berman, Kekst and Company

When Carol Bartz was leaving Yahoo, Berman was the 'secret sniper' that was getting in touch with the media and other relevant people behind the scenes to make sure the message was clear:

Yahoo is not selling, and everything is going fine.

Berman is what you can call a 'crisis' public relations guy, ensuring that when things start hitting the fan, the company can still look as clean as possible.

48. Vijay Chattha, VSCPr

On top of being just a public relations consultant, Chattha is also an investor and advises multiple companies, giving him a different perspective than most other public relations professionals.

Chattha is a mobile expert that has worked with tons of companies that have sold to the likes of Google and AOL.

47. Reema Bahnasy, Hatch Agency

Bahnasy is one of the top names in enterprise communications, having worked at Oracle for more than 5 years.

As startups with billion-dollar valuations are popping up more and more often, her network in the enterprise world is becoming even more valuable.

She left Oracle to become a senior executive at OutCast as it began its rise to the top of the Silicon Valley PR ranks. At the end of last year, she left to start her own firm, the Hatch Agency, with Amy Swanson. It counts Path and Benchmark Capital as clients.

46. Candace Locklear, MightyPR

Locklear has a huge presence in technology, thanks in no small part due to the large 'burner' community prevalent in technology.

As a result of those connections from Burning Man, Locklear has had plenty of run-ins with some of the top Silicon Valley veterans. She's one of the most connected PR professionals in the valley.

She then joined Spark PR as a managing director for a number of large technology firms before starting her own firm.

45. David Krane, Google Ventures

David Krane was there from day one as Google's first public relations official. He's had a hand in almost every single public launch of a Google product since the debut of Google.com in 1999.

He's now a part of Google Ventures, but his contributions to Google should hardly be ignored.

Minor note: Krane also hired Megan Quinn, who would go on to become a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

44. Dana Lengkeek

Lengkeek now runs public relations at Yahoo and has nearly a decade of experience doing PR for technology companies.

She worked with Sun Microsystems and McAfee before joining Yahoo about three years ago.

With Yahoo back in the media spotlight thanks to the hiring of former Googler Marissa Mayer, Lengkeek now has the attention of the entire public again -- so we'll see how she uses it.

43. Barry Schnitt, Pinterest

Barry Schnitt, having worked at Facebook from 2008 to 2012, became one of the first losses of the massive social network's big brain drain following its initial public offering.

Now Schnitt is running point at Pinterest, considered one of the hottest properties on the web right now.

42. Pete Wootton, Waggener Edstrom

A vice president at Waggener Edstrom, Pete Wootton has been with the pre-eminent public relations firm for more than a decade.

Wootton handles investor relations for Microsoft, one of the largest technology companies in the world.

41. Erin Fors, Cutline

Erin Fors is a favourite among reporters given that she's an 'all around awesome human being.'

But aside from that, Fors founded Cutline, which is a low-profile agency that's staffed much of Google's public relations department for years.

Among the Cutline alumni are Rachael Horwitz, who now works at Twitter, and Michael Kirkland, who now works at Facebook.

40. David Swain, Facebook

It's critical that Facebook get the messaging for the Facebook Platform correct. It's arguably the most important part of Facebook, given that you can build an entire business on top of it.

And it's equally important that reporters understand how to adequately explain it.

Swain works night and day to communicate with reporters and Facebook platform users, ensuring that that message gets across correctly and that any complaints are handled speedily.

39. Lynn Fox, Klout

Fox has practically run the entire circuit of technology, spending time at Apple, Google, Palm and Twitter. She also spent time at UStream before leaving to join Twitter.

With such an extensive background comes a staggeringly large network and a wealth of experience working with some of the most famous tech executives in the valley -- including former Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

Fox now works at Klout as the acting head of communications.

38. Michael Celiceo, SAY Media

Another technology veteran, Celiceo spent nearly four years working exclusively with Microsoft at Waggener Edstrom.

With that experience comes a big network and a level of connectedness with the valley that the typical rank and file don't possess.

Before joining SAY Media, he was vice president at Bite Communications, and global PR firm Weber Shandwick 'way back in the day.'

37. Kim Rubey, Airbnb

One of the hardest working professionals in the business, Rubey worked tirelessly to clean and shine Airbnb's image after it faced a lot of scrutiny over an Airbnb user's home getting ransacked.

Before Airbnb, Rubey worked at Yahoo -- arguably one of the more challenging jobs as a public relations official.

She has decades of experience doing public relations, ranging from government campaigns to to technology companies like eBay.

36. Teri Daley, Samsung

Brand new at Samsung, Daley is now charged with leading communications for the number one smartphone maker in the world.

That's a pretty big task.

It also doesn't help that Samsung, while being ubiquitous, carries an image of producing products that are inferior to Apple's devices.

While she's new to the company, she's now managing the image for one of the largest and most important companies in the world.

35. Chase, Access Communications

AccessPR is filled with a number of high-performing standouts, but the Chase is particularly good about working with gaming companies like Sony and Twitch.tv.

Yes, his name is just Chase. Originally a DJ in College (DJ Chase), the 'DJ' eventually faded to the point that Chase was 'just Chase.'

34. Dena Cook, BrewPR

While there are a bunch of really great public relations professionals working with Brooke Hammerling at BrewPR, we'll highlight her partner Dena Cook, who worked with Zynga in the early days.

Dena has a ton of experience working with even some of the largest technology companies like Playstation, and she carries with her the same mentality as the rest of the BrewPR crew: don't intentionally screw with people.

The end result is great: companies often end up more visible and have a much healthier relationship with the press.

33. Erika Brown Ekiel, Freelance

Some of the best public relations professionals actually spend a long tenure as a reporter before shifting over to media relations.

Ekiel spent a decade at Forbes covering venture capital before moving on to marketing with Greylock Partners (and Matrix Partners shortly before that.)

Now she's one of the top independent consultants on branding and marketing.

32. Brian O'Shaughnessy, Skype

O'Shaughnessy has also spent a lot of time dealing with political communications, which is an absolute nightmare.

During that time, he served as the primary spokesperson for Network Solutions during the contentious formation of ICANN--the governing body that decides what top-level domains there are (you know, like .com and .ly).

O'Shaughnessy stayed on with VeriSign after it acquired Network Solutions and then spent a term at Google handling its product communications.

31. Tiffany Spencer, OUYA

Spencer is one of the most connected public relations professionals in the video game industry.

Having spent time at Ubisoft, Electronic Arts, OnLive and now heading communications for OUYA -- the largest Kickstarter project of all time -- it's rare that you won't run into someone who knows her.

She also spends time freelance consulting for other up-and-coming gaming startups, like GameSalad.

30. Jim Prosser, Google

A rising star at Google, Prosser also spent some time doing communications for politicians before joining the search giant. He's been at Google for two years.

Prosser handles corporate communications for Google, and is known for getting back to his requests very quickly and being frank with reporters.

He's especially been busy dealing with patents during the time that Google purchased Motorola.

29. Adam Isserlis, Facebook

Formerly Zynga's lead communications guy in New York, Adam Isserlis now works at Facebook on its advertising team.

Isserlis is frank with reporters about what the company will and will not say, and was basically the only communications person at Zynga from the hours of 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. eastern time -- one of the most important time slots in the news cycle.

For a company that very recently went public, that's a pretty tough gig.

Isserlis has nearly a decade of experience working as a public relations official.

28. Carolyn Penner, Twitter

Since Sean Garrett left Twitter, Carolyn Penner has basically run point for communications under Gabe Stricker at a company that's one of the hottest properties on the web.

Penner has been tasked with altering the company's media strategy, which in the past used to be relying on reporters writing based off blog posts from the company instead of working closely with the media.

So far, it seems like the new strategy has worked, and she now has backup from Gabriel Stricker, who just joined Twitter.

27. Aaron Zamost, Square

Square is another one of the hottest startups in Silicon Valley, and its communications staff is run by the duo of Ricardo Reyes and Zamost. He's also one of the hardest-working professionals in the business.

Zamost collectively spent a long time at Google, working on YouTube -- particularly during its phase of legal snafus -- before joining Square.

Like some of the best startup public relations professionals, Zamost is again very frank with the general public about Square's policies.

26. Niki Fenwick, Google

Fenwick is a veteran at Google, where she's spent most of her career as a public relations official.

Before that, Fenwick spent time as an attorney. She has a lot of experience dealing with regulation and corporate governance, and she's a graduate of Harvard Law School.

Having a fleet of professionals with legal experience is pretty much a must at Google, given its constant run-ins with privacy and policy,

25. Amanda Cowie, Bloomberg LP

Aside from being one of the best news organisations in the world, Bloomberg LP is also one of the hottest technology companies on the market right now.

The company specialises in packaging huge amounts of complex data in terminals that it sells for tens of thousands of dollars each year.

It can be challenging to make a quantitative company like Bloomberg as sexy as other technology companies, but Cowie -- a relatively young PR professional -- seems up to the task.

24. Rachel Whetstone, Google

Behind all of Google's rank and file is Rachel Whetstone, head of public relations at Google.

While she doesn't interact on a daily basis with reporters like her team does, she is still guiding the search giant's relationship with the media and the public.

Given that Google is among the top five technology companies in the world, that's quite a bit of power.

23. Ricardo Reyes, Square

A former VP of communications at Tesla, Reyes joined Square just a few months ago as part of the company's push to run its staff up to more than 500 people.

Before working at Tesla, Reyes also spent time at Google, running communications for its YouTube division.

Given that Square, YouTube and Tesla are all design-heavy companies, Reyes seems like a natural fit to get the company's message across.

22. Jonny Thaw, Facebook

Thaw, like a few of the others on the list, spent a long time as a technology reporter before switching over to a communications role.

Like some of the most experienced reporters in the valley, Thaw ran the circuit of both Business 2.0 magazine and Red Herring magazine before joining Bloomberg News.

He then left Bloomberg to become a manager of corporate communications at Facebook about two years ago.

Post-IPO, he's now moving form corporate communications to a role doing PR for Facebook's products.

21. Julie Henderson, News Corp

Henderson took over communications at News Corp., one of the largest media organisations in the world, in January this year as it was in the middle of dealing with a hacking scandal.

Still, Henderson is not a surprise pick for the new position of chief communications officer -- she's been at News Corp for nearly a decade.

20. Hani Durzy, LinkedIn

LinkedIn is basically the most successful technology IPO of 2011, and has been firing on all cylinders.

That's in part thanks to Durzy and his communications crew (including Shannon Stubo), who are tirelessly working with reporters and the public to make sure LinkedIn remains in the same conversations with the likes of Facebook and Twitter.

LinkedIn may be a professional social network, but it's seen as a 'sexy' social media company thanks to the efforts of its communications team.

19. Gabriel Stricker, Twitter

Before joining Twitter, Stricker handled communications for Google's search division.

Then he left Google to join Carolyn Penner, also a former Google PR representative, to join the company and head its communications.

Stricker was at Google for more than five years. He now leads a staff of communications people at Twitter filled with former Googlers.

18. Caryn Marooney, Facebook

Originally the co-founder of one of the most widely-used public relations firms in the valley -- The OutCast Agency -- Marooney joined Facebook in March last year.

She joined Facebook to head outreach to Facebook's technical community, which includes very important components of Facebook's business like the Facebook platform and technical recruiting.

17. Natalie Kerris, Apple

Apple's products are some of the most beloved pieces of technology in the world -- and that doesn't always have to do with the fact that they are incredible products.

Kerris, behind the scenes, runs communications for all of the products that consumers actually care about, ensuring that exact right people have access to Apple's newest products and convey Apple's message correctly.

16. Mary Osako, Amazon

Amazon is one of the most important technology companies in the world right now -- and that's even before it began expanding into tablets and smartphones.

But now that it's making a serious play at the tablet market and trying to build a smartphone, it's going to be going toe-to-toe with Apple and Google. Osako is also extremely well-connected thanks to her time at Yahoo.

Osako will be running point for Amazon, ensuring that the Kindle devices are getting just as much attention as the iPhone and Android devices.

15. Christina Lee, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers is one of the most pre-eminent venture capital firms in Silicon Valley.

It also happens to be wrapped up in one of the nastiest sex scandals to hit Silicon Valley.

Luckily, Kleiner Perkins has communications partner Christina Lee, who used to head communications at Hulu. Lee is a technology veteran, spending time as a marketer for Amazon and Microsoft.

14. Steve Dowling, Apple

Among the most important people at Apple are the handlers for Apple's executive team -- which are often kept behind locked doors save for rare appearances in the press and on stage.

Dowling has taken over that job in recent years, serving as a gatekeeper for high-powered executives like Tim Cook, Eddy Cue and Scott Forstall.

13. Dani Dudeck, Zynga

Dudeck, having spent a lot of time at MySpace and other PR firms, eventually joined Zynga when CEO Mark Pincus brought on Owen Van Natta as chief business officer.

She's run communications at Zynga for about two years -- which was particularly challenging during its IPO quiet period, as it is for the rest of the technology companies going public.

Zynga was considered one of the hottest IPOs since Google, which afforded the company a lot of visibility -- but its stock has since cratered, leaving Dudeck with the challenge of making Zynga once again as appealing as it was during its IPO frenzy.

12. Andrew Kovacs, Sequoia Capital

Kovacs is another big-time Google veteran, working there for about five years before joining Sequoia Capital earlier this year.

Like much of Google's communications diaspora, Kovacs took the big-time job of managing communications and messaging for a venture capital firm that's considered one of the best in the valley.

Among Sequoia Capital's portfolio: Evernote, Jawbone, Jive, Oracle and Electronic Arts.

11. Ashley Mayer, Box

Box is considered one of the hottest startups in Silicon Valley today, and a lot of that is thanks to its relentless communications program led by Mayer.

Mayer spends her time tirelessly getting CEO Aaron Levie in front of cameras, speaking appearances and the public to make what would otherwise be a boring enterprise company 'sexy' in the eyes of consumers.

10. Elissa Doyle, Third Point

Yahoo has catapaulted itself to the top of the news cycle once again with the hiring of former Googler Marissa Mayer as its new CEO.

That's given Doyle, a PR professional from Third Point, a pretty big task.

She manages communications for the firm that essentially brought down former CEO Scott Thompson and took control of the company.

Given the presence of Yahoo in the news cycle today, Doyle has an opportunity to essentially shape the direction of coverage of Yahoo moving forward.

9. Larry Yu, Facebook

Another former Googler at Facebook, Larry Yu directs corporate communications for the company -- an especially difficult task during the infamous 'quiet period' leading up to and following an initial public offering.

Yu has plenty of experience dealing in communications, joining his former colleague Elliot Schrage at Facebook shortly after Sheryl Sandberg left to become the company's COO.

While he could easily delegate some tasks to the rest of his team, Yu often takes it upon himself ot make sure Facebook's message is clear for a large batch of reporters.

8. Brandee Barker, Freelance

Barker was director of global communications for Facebook for more than four years before she decided to pursue an independent career as a consultant.

During that time, she led communications during a number of milestones -- including an investment from Microsoft and Digital Sky Technologies.

She has more than 15 years experience and is one of the best in the Valley, often called on for the most complicated communications problems.

7. Charlie Sipkins, Sard Verbinnen

If there's one firm that's best at handling crises for major tech companies, it's Sard Verbinnen.

Sipkins, a managing director there, made his name as part of the team leading communications for Yahoo during its highly tumultuous period of turnover between CEOs Scott Thompson, Carol Bartz and new CEO Marissa Mayer.

He also worked with Groupon during its initial public offering and News Corp. during its separation of publishing and entertainment assets.

It's a pretty impressive resume.

6. Shannon Stubo, LinkedIn

While not as visible as the rest of some of her staff, Stubo is one of the most experienced communications professionals in the field.

She's spent time at Yahoo, eBay, Intuit and OpenTable -- all companies that are publicly traded. With that comes more than a decade of experience working with technology companies.

Now she's working with her fifth publicly-traded company, and she happened to be there for the entire process of taking the company public.

5. Katie Cotton, Apple

Apple is famous for having lock-down security, but it still has a big staff of public relations people.

Though she talks to few reporters and analysts, Katie Cotton runs Apple's communications staff that works relentlessly to ensure that the company has a crisp, next-level image that other companies cannot match.

As one of the sole gateways into Apple, one of the most beloved companies in the world, she wields a level of influence that few others in the technology influence possess.

4. Brooke Hammerling, BrewPR

It's hard to speak to someone in the tech industry that doesn't know who Brooke Hammerling is.

Specializing in early-stage startups, Hammerling started her own PR firm that's worked with the likes of NetSuite and GroupMe.

Hammerling is seemingly everywhere at once, and runs a killer team at BrewPR that are both highly professional and very good at getting their companies out and visible to the world.

3. Frank Shaw, Microsoft

Aside from haphazardly suggesting an analyst go running in near-100 degree weather, Frank Shaw is probably one of the nicest public relations people you will meet in the industry.

He's also heading communications for one of the largest technology companies in the world that's in the midst of an attempt to turn itself around and become cool again.

2. Elliot Schrage, Facebook

Facebook has finally finished one of the largest technology IPOs of all time.

This is an extremely difficult task to accomplish, given strict rules about the 'quiet period.' But Facebook's communications staff, under the guidance of Elliott Schrage, was able to navigate it without too much trouble.

Schrage, during his time as VP of communications at Google, has testified in front of congress and has plenty of experience with the law -- something Facebook needs as it navigates the tricky legal aspects of privacy.

1. Margit Wennmachers, Andreessen Horowitz

Margit Wennmachers is the straight-talking, super-connected information hub of Silicon Valley.

Not only is she an incredible representative of Andreessen Horowitz, one of the pre-eminent venture capital firms in Silicon Valley, but she can point you to the exact person you need to know.

They cover a ton of tech companies...

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